Texas Tech Researchers Find Elevated Arsenic, Lead Levels in New Orleans
August 25, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Aug. 2, 2006
CONTACT: John Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org
LUBBOCK – Researchers at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health found elevated
levels of arsenic and lead in New Orleans after completing their second study of soil
and sediment left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The study was published in the American Chemical Society’s peer-reviewed journal,
Environmental Science & Technology.
Texas Tech University’s follow-up sampling of multiple sites in the hurricane-ravaged
city found high levels of arsenic and lead. Forty of 43 arsenic samples exceeded EPA
standards and some lead samples exceeded the EPA’s safety standards by more than four
Researchers took samples at 43 sites around the city, including the Sixth and Ninth
Wards and areas near an industrial canal and the Superdome, said George Cobb, research
“We confirmed that the majority of metals were not present at concentrations that
suggest a widespread and immediate need for concern,” Cobb said. “However, arsenic
and lead did frequently exceed EPA’s criteria for assessing human health risks. This
poses difficult policy decisions for the regulatory community.”
The new study both confirms and expands on earlier findings. For instance, flooding
after Hurricane Rita neither redistributed toxic metals in some areas of the city
nor washed them away.
As plans for rebuilding move ahead, more focused sampling should be done in at the
neighborhood level, the study stated, to identify specific hot spots in need of capping
or other measures to prevent dangerous exposures.
On Dec. 14, TIEHH researchers reported unsafe levels of lead in soil and sediments
left behind in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina that could pose a
heightened health threat to returning residents. Some soil samples collected from
the area contained lead levels as much as two-thirds higher than what the EPA considers
For more information, visit www.texastech.edu/neworleanspollution
CONTACT: George Cobb, professor of environmental toxicology at TIEHH, (806) 885-0236,